The Changing Status of Women in Horace Walpole's The Castle of Otranto, Wilkie Collins' The Woman in White and Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca
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Gothic novels reflect social, economic, and cultural values of society and mirror the norms and codes of their time. It is possible to analyse such novels in terms of the ‘Woman Question’ which diverges from the traditional gender codes of society within which men are represented as oppressors while women are depicted as oppressed and docile. In the eighteenth century, women were associated with the private sphere, which confined them to the domestic domain mainly. In this regard, women, who were perceived to be oppressed and suppressed in the patriarchal society of the eighteenth century, as represented in Horace Walpole’s The Castle of Otranto, are among the major concerns of this thesis. In the nineteenth century, the Industrial Revolution caused a drastic change in that perception as it made women take part in the social. Besides, through the concept of the ‘New Woman’ (1894), womanhood was redefined and several acts in relation to women’s rights were introduced. This change in the perception of women is represented in Wilkie Collins’ The Woman in White. In the twentieth century, through the Suffragette Movement, women achieved their suffrage. Besides, different concerns such as female identity and sexuality are included on the agenda, both of which are delved into in Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca. In this respect, the major aim of this thesis is to analyse the changing status of women from their subjugation by the patriarchal society in The Castle of Otranto, to the redefinition of womanhood as exemplified in The Woman in White, and finally to the exploration of female identity and sexuality in Rebecca.